If you injure someone while engaging in your normal job duties, your employer may be able to be held liable for those injuries. This is called “vicarious liability.” The problem is that if you are sometimes required to use your personal vehicle for work and there is an accident, it may not be clear whether there should be vicarious liability or not. This case clarifies when an employer can be held liable through vicarious liability when an employee injures someone while driving their personal vehicle. If you are injured in an accident, it’s important to contact a skilled Southern California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can help you to figure out who should be held responsible for your injuries, and make sure that all potentially liable parties are, in fact, held responsible.
Facts of the Case
In this case, the driver and owner of the vehicle was an attorney who worked for the County of Los Angeles. As part of his job he would often need to use his personal vehicle to visit clients in jail, go to different courthouses where clients were being tried, and visit crime scenes or meet witnesses. It would have been impossible for him to do his job without using his car relatively frequently. The attorney was eligible to be paid mileage by his employer when he used his car for these purposes.
One day, after spending the entire day in the office and not using his car since commuting to work that morning, the attorney left work to go home. He first stopped at the post office to mail his personal rent check, which was less than a mile from his office. As he was turning into the post office, he collided with another car, which hit and injured a pedestrian.
The issue in this case was whether Los Angeles County should be held responsible for the injuries caused by the accident under the theory of vicarious liability. A typical example of vicarious liability would be a pizza delivery driver. If someone is working to deliver pizzas and gets into an accident, the owner of the pizza place may be able to be held liable. These inquiries are always very fact specific, though.
The trial court found that the employer in the above-referenced case could be held liable, but the Appeals Court reversed the decision. Here, the judge relied on the fact that the lawyer used his car to drive home from work, which was not required by the employer or a benefit to the employer. If the lawyer had gotten into an accident on his way to court from his office, the outcome may have been different.
Contact an Experienced Southern California Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured in an accident, it’s crucial that you contact a knowledgeable Southern California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. These cases are usually very fact specific, so it’s important to talk to an attorney to give you the best chance of recovering the damages that you are entitled to. The team at Neumann Law Group can help you to hold the people responsible for your injuries accountable. Neumann Law Group serves clients in Southern California, including Los Angeles and Huntington Beach. Contact them today at (213) 277-0001 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation.
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